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13-year-old girl killed in violent carjacking of family van in Pico Rivera

Isabella Cortes, 13, died Sunday during a violent carjacking in Pico Rivera.
Isabella Cortes, 13, died during a violent carjacking in Pico Rivera on Sunday, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
(Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department)

A 13-year-old girl was ejected and killed during a violent carjacking over the weekend in Pico Rivera, authorities said.

The girl was waiting in the family van with her three siblings while her parents stopped at La Mano Tortilleria restaurant near Whittier Boulevard and Durfee Avenue about 2 p.m. Sunday, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said in a news release.

The department identified the 13-year-old as Isabella Cortes in a tweet Monday.

While the couple was inside the restaurant, sheriff’s officials said a 26-year-old Los Angeles man jumped into the front seat of the vehicle, which was left running.

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When the man, identified by deputies as Jose Elias Aguilar, noticed the children inside, he yelled, “Vamanos!” and the side doors of the van slid open, authorities said. But before the siblings — ages 8, 11, 13 and 18 — could exit the vehicle safely, Aguilar sped off.

The oldest child fought briefly with Aguilar before she jumped out of the moving van, authorities said. Her 11-year-old brother also was able to jump from the vehicle. Both sustained minor injuries, officials said.

But Aguilar then sped west on Whittier Boulevard with Isabella and her 8-year-old brother still in the van, deputies said. At Deland Avenue and Whittier Boulevard, Aguilar pushed the boy from the vehicle, according to the news release. The child suffered major injuries and was taken to a hospital, officials said.

Aguilar then continued driving, speeding at about 60 mph. At some point, the girl was ejected from the vehicle and struck a stationary object, according to the sheriff’s release. Isabella was declared dead at the scene.

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After the girl was thrown from the vehicle, Aguilar continued driving west on Whittier Boulevard, where he crashed into another vehicle, authorities said. He left the scene of the crash and then drove north on Rosemead Boulevard, where the stolen van became disabled in El Monte.

Deputies said Aguilar tried to carjack a man as he was exiting his vehicle, while the man’s wife and child were still inside. The men fought for control of the car for about 100 yards before the vehicle crashed into a nearby bridge, authorities said.

Aguilar ran back to the disabled van to try to escape, but several nearby street vendors, who had watched the carjacking attempt, detained him until deputies arrived, according to the release.

Aguilar, who was treated at a hospital for injuries suffered during the crash, was arrested on suspicion of carjacking, murder and kidnapping, the Sheriff’s Department said. According to court records, he is currently on probation and was recently arrested and released on zero bail for felony possession of a dagger and vandalism.


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